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Learn what to watch for to keep your elderly loved ones safe on the highways

Growing senior population at greater risk for vehicle-crash deaths, injuries. If your personal one is injured, a Louisiana Car Accident Lawyers may need to be hired.

America’s senior population is growing. From 1992 to 2002, the number of Americans age 70 and older grew at a rate that was 27 percent higher than the growth rate of the total population.

 

The growing number of seniors in America is evidenced by the increase in the number of older drivers on the highways. In 2001, there were 19.1 million licensed drivers age 70 and older, a 32 percent increase over a decade earlier.

 

While older Americans make up about 10 percent of the population, they also make up almost 12 percent of traffic fatalities nationwide. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury-related deaths for elderly Americans ages 65 to 74. NHTSA also reports that death rates per vehicle miles traveled are four times greater for for older drivers than for the 30 to 59-year-old age group.

 

Research indicates that the higher crash rate for older drivers results from impairments in vision, cognitive skills and motor function. As these functions decline, older drivers become more vulnerable to crashes in complex situations requiring good visual perception, attention and rapid response. Older drivers also are more likely to be involved in wrecks at intersections, especially when a left-hand turn is involved.

 

Highway safety experts say that there is no specific age at which a person’s ability to drive safely is diminished. Every individual is different, and because the decline in function is often gradual, the driver will not recognize that he should limit his driving. It is often up to relatives, friends and doctors to help make that decision.

 

Family and friends can look for these possible warning signs when an older person gets behind the wheel:

 

□             Forgets to buckle seat belt

□             Does not obey stop signs or traffic lights

□             Fails to yield the right-of-way

□             Drives too slowly or too quickly

□             Often gets lost, even on familiar routes

□             Stops at a green light or at the wrong time

□             Doesn’t seem to notice other cars, walkers or bike riders on the road

□             Is honked at or passed often

□             Reacts slowly to driving situations

Many resources are available for older drivers and their loved ones. The AARP offers driver safety programs designed for seniors, a “driving IQ quiz” that can be taken online, and a question and answer sheet for older drivers. All of these resources can be found at www.aarp.org. Additional materials can be found on the Web sites for the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety (www.aaafoundation.org), the AMA (www.ama-assn.org), and NHTSA (www.nhtsa.dot.gov).

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